The News Media Coalition (NMC) – representing major news publishers and international news agencies – welcomes the UK government’s recently published response to the DCMS Select Committee’s inquiry into Major Sporting and Cultural Events.
The Committee’s recommendations to promote and protect the special role of news media in reporting on events of public interest, were supported by the NMC and its members on publication. The NMC therefore welcomes the government’s express support for the sector-specific recommendations and its position that reporting of events of national significance should ‘be a key priority’. In addition, the government stated that bids to host major events should consult news media representatives – a key ask of the industry.
Following the government’s response (published on June 24th, 2022), the NMC stands ready to engage with the UK government, the relevant sport administrations and UK Sport, to identify how the news media can best play its independent role in covering sport events – before, during and after they occur. This includes:
* The process to update the Gold Framework, to ensure that the interests of news media feature strongly within a forward-looking, digitally-driven and holistic update, to protect media freedoms within publicly funded events.
* The NMC setting out news media priorities and needs ahead of any future bids. For example, in the expectation of a bid for the UK staging of the 2028 football ‘Euros’, the NMC will work with the government and the football associations working to submit the bid dossier to UEFA. The key bid deadlines are late 2022 and Spring 2023
* Building contact with the newly established Government Events Team, the purpose of which is to support departments on the delivery of future events, based on the operational event expertise gained from the delivery of international major events, including those in 2022 such as the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
The NMC thanks the work of the DCMS Committee in highlighting the changing news media landscape in its inquiry report and the threat to the integrity of such important events, should the free press be excluded or restricted in their reporting. The focus is now on turning those government-supported recommendations into reality.
However, while the NMC congratulates the government on its stated intention to build in press protections, we believe there is a further opportunity for the UK to demonstrate international leadership. The UK should use its position to encourage international sporting organisations to develop news media-friendly policies and to reconcile these with the commercial programmes of sport.
NMC Chief Executive Andrew Moger said: ‘Government should engage with the sports community to ensure that media freedom for independent reporting is a firm pre-requisite within invitations from sports federations to bid for events to be staged in a country, as well as taking a lead to ensure the evolving news media are fully able to fulfil their role when events begin. Government should use their influence so media freedom is called out and featured throughout the process, from concept to bid to hosting to legacy’.
He added: ‘The UK government, and other states and administrations should seek to shape bidding processes from the very start to the finish line so that freedom to report is not lost amid the enthusiasm to land hosting rights.’